Chris Mann was born in Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape. He started his working life in rural development and poverty alleviation projects, such as low-cost water-supply and sanitation, small-scale agriculture and labour-intensive public works including secondary road and pipeline construction. 

This multi-faceted, multi-talented writer also taught English in a rural school, lectured in English at Rhodes University and worked in teacher development and job creation. He volunteered for various trusts, was a parish councillor and  a founder member and songwriter of Zabalaza, a cross-culture band performing in English and Zulu.

His formal education included a BA from Wits majoring in English and Philosophy, a MA from the School of Oriental and African Languages (London) in African Oral Literature and a MA from Oxford in English Language and Literature.

When based at the Institute for the Study of English in Africa at Rhodes University, he was the founder and convenor of Wordfest, a national multilingual festival of South African languages and literatures that had a developmental emphasis.

Chris Mann’s poems have appeared in a wide range of journals, textbooks and anthologies in South Africa and abroad. He performed his work at various festivals, schools, churches, universities and conferences around the country as part of a life-long passion to promote poetry in the public domain.

Able to converse in Afrikaans, Zulu and Xhosa, Mann writes poetry influenced by the richness of the different languages he spoke and which reflected the diverse work experiences and social encounters he had. 

Keenly narrative, his poems convey to the reader the textural details of the South African landscape and the intimacy of its people. As he examined his own spirituality, which was rooted in the history, place and potential that is contemporary South Africa, his practical musicianship emerged clearly in the lilting lyricism and rhythm of his poetry.

Extract from the biography by Liesel Jobson on the Poetry International website. 

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For articles about Chris Mann’s work, please go to the Reviews page.